Types of Business Programs

Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)

The degree most frequently associated with business school is the MBA. Originally planned as a way to improve managerial techniques to serve the rising industrial economy of the past century, the MBA has evolved substantially to encompass all areas of economic enterprise from banking and finance, through non-profit entrepreneurship, to multinational, technology, and innovation consulting organizations.  Full-time, part-time, executive, and distance-learning MBA programs offer broad-based curricula, as well as specialized courses. Full-time programs typically last 2 years.

The MBA is a general management degree that typically takes two years to earn and requires several years of work experience prior to your application. If you wish to gain the knowledge about business and management that an MBA offers but do not have the expected work experience, or cannot commit the time and resources to develop a strong application, consider a different course of study, such as a Master's degree in finance, accounting, or management.  

Master of Finance (M.Fin., M.S.F., M.Q.F.)

The Master of Finance (MFin) degree focuses on financial analysis, investment management, corporate finance and accounting. Unlike the MBA, MFin programs do not encompass the broader areas of business practice such as operations management or human resources management. Master of Science in Finance (MSF) programs are more mathematically-centered and focus not only conceptual understanding of subjects such as finance engineering and mathematical finance, taught at MFin programs, but also practical applications. Master of Quantitative Finance programs are the most mathematically intensive and require substantial quantitative academic background. 

Master of Accountancy (M.A.C.C., M.A.C., M.S.A., etc.)

Master in Accountancy (or Master of Accounting) programs are designed to provide essential instruction on the graduate level to operate effectively as professionals of business and public accounting. Most programs are one or one-and-a-half years long and offer courses in disciplines ranging from taxation and accounting to electives in business practice or finance. The majority of US states require 150 hours of training to qualify an applicant to take the Uniform Certified Public Accountant Examination and become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). 

Master of Management (M.M., M.Mgt.)

Master of Management programs typically comprise a set of required courses and a few electives in a year-long curriculum. These programs are designed to hone skills in the domains of human resources, operations management, information systems, marketing, supply chain management, or entrepreneurship. Unlike the MFin or MSF, MM-type programs tend to focus more on the qualitative, behavioral, and managerial aspects of business. 

Master of Science in Supply Chain Management (M.S.S.C.M., M.S.C.M., etc.)

A relatively small number of schools offer a degree in Supply Chain Management. Programs typically last one to two years and may include a hands-on project. The GMAT or GRE are accepted by most programs. Students who do not have sufficient quantitative preparation may be required to take foundational courses prior to the beginning such a program.  

Business Ph.D. or Doctor in Business Administration (D.B.A.)

Doctorate degrees in business prepare students for academic research and practice. Business PhD programs focus on developing new theoretical approaches to business practices or challenges, while DBA programs concentrate on the practical applications and testing of theoretical models. Economics, behavioral, and mathematical sciences are among the key areas of study and research. 

Joint Degrees

Many universities offer combination degree programs that allow students to pursue a business degree alongside another professional degree, such as law, medicine, and public policy. Joint degree programs allow students to complete both degrees in a shorter period of time than if they pursued the degrees sequentially. Application procedures for join programs vary by institution. Before you commit to a joint degree program, critically assess the value that it will bring to your career development and the associated costs of time, energy, and finances. 

Other Degrees

Business education and practice cover a wide range of disciplines and professions. Your interests and career objectives should dictate your choice of program. For example, if you are interested in health care management, a Master in Public Health or Health Administration may be a good choice. Given the wide range of business programs available, students are strongly advised to engage in continual exploration and reflection over a number of years before deciding which type of program is the best fit for them. CareerLAB advisors can help you begin this process.